Thumbs up for Tarantino; thumbs down for Chan

As we’ve observed over and over again in recent weeks at this site, the current conflicts over the pro-liberty protesters in Hong Kong – and over the growing arrogance of China generally in its relations with the free world – have separated the sheep from the goats. Here are a couple of stories we haven’t covered yet.

Quentin Tarantino

To begin with, there’s Quentin Tarantino. We’ve criticized the brilliant, eccentric writer-director on this site, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due. His new Brad Pitt-Leonardo di Caprio vehicle, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, has been generating even more buzz than his pictures usually do, and looks like it has a fair chance to pick up a few statuettes at Oscar time. But there’s been one problem: the bigwigs in China, a top market for Hollywood films these days, insisted that he make certain cuts before they would allow the movie to be released there. To be sure, when Beijing objected to scenes of violence and nudity in one of his previous works, Django Unchained, he did agree to clip out a few of the scenes that bothered them. But this time Tarantino – who has rights to final cut – responded to their demands with a firm no.

Michael Chan

Then there’s Canadian politician Michael Chan, a former minister of immigration and international trade in the government of Ontario who now sits on the board of governors of Seneca College. He’s come out firmly against the Hong Kong protest, echoing Beijing’s spurious claims that they’re the work of dark “foreign forces” that are interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and out to make trouble for China. “I have been thinking, why are these young people so radical, so passionate [and] committed to do these things? And why so many people?” Chan said. “If there is no deeply hidden organization in this, or deeply hidden push from the outside, there is no way that such large-scale turmoil would happen in Hong Kong in a few months.”

Chan’s career history is far from irrelevant here. When he was in government, according to the Globe and Mail, Canadian intelligence was seriously concerned about the closeness of his relationship with Chinese consular officials in Toronto and privately warned higher-ups about Chan’s “conduct and the risk of foreign influence.” The Globe and Mail quoted Gloria Fung, president of a group called Canada-Hong Kong Link, as saying that Chan is clearly “not using Canadian values nor the universal values of Western democracies in making all these comments. Rather, he abides by the values of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Kerry Jang: “agnostic” about Communism

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The Chinese flag flying outside the statehouse in Olympia

It’s considered a matter of courtesy to fly another country’s flag when one of its representatives is visiting. That doesn’t mean people have to like it. Last year, when Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai flew to Olympia, Washington, to meet with that state’s governor, Jay Inslee, the Chinese flag was hoisted outside the State Capitol – only to be pulled down by a group of private citizens who found its presence there disgraceful. A few days ago, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Czech Republic, Chinese flags lined the route from the airport into Prague. As in Olympia, citizens pulled a couple of the flags down and replaced them with Tibetan flags.

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The Vancouver ceremony

Also this month – specifically, on October 1 – a Chinese flag was raised outside the City Hall in Vancouver, Canada. But it was not because some Chinese dignitary was in town. No, it was done in recognition of China’s National Day. The flag-raising ceremony was organized by a group calling itself the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations. And the flag wasn’t the whole of it: two of the speakers at the event, a Vancouver Councilman and third-generation Chinese-Canadian named Kerry Jang and a Member of Parliament named Joe Peschisolido, wore red scarves, which were part of the uniform worn by the cruel Red Guards during Mao Zedong’s so-called Cultural Revolution.

This spectacle didn’t sit well with many locals. Peschisolido himself later claimed that he was unaware of the significance of the red scarves, and said that his remarks outside City Hall had included affirmations of “the importance of human rights, the importance for democracy, the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of one’s faith.”

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Kerry Jang

But Jang was unrepentant. Describing himself as “agnostic” about Chinese Communism, he attributed initial criticism of the event to “ignorance and racism.” But its most vocal critics turned out to be his fellow Chinese-Canadians. Meena Wong, a local politician who had been a child in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, said she was “dumbfounded” at the sight of “my city councillor in my city hall raising the flag wearing the symbol of loyalty to communism.” On October 6, a Chinese-American group called the Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Values – which, as we saw yesterday, had recently opposed a Maoist concert in nearby Richmond – held a public protest against the Vancouver flag ceremony and demanded Jang’s resignation.

jang_thumbDuring the last decade, charged the group’s head, Louis Huang, the Beijing government had vastly expanded its influence in Canada – “not only in our government organizations, but also in the hundreds of Chinese associations in Canada.” This development, Huang warned, represented a threat to “the foundation of our freedom and democracy, the loyalty to our country and our national security.”

As a result of the protest, Vancouver authorities said they were re-examining their policies regarding displays of foreign flags. And Jang, while repeating  his claim that many critics of the ceremony “just hate all Chinese,” also sought to slough off responsibility for wearing a red scarf, maintained that someone else had tied it around his neck and that he was scared to remove it lest he cause an “international incident.” Now there’s the kind of character, principle, and resolve you want in an elected leader.